There's an assumption that if you're hearing voices in your head, then you must be crazy. To that, I reply ... maybe not. You could be a writer. Yes, yes, I hear some of you out there muttering, "Aren't they the same thing?"
I encourage all of you to listen to those voices, even cultivate them. Those are characters speaking to you, telling you their stories, their lives.
Let's say you're writing a book. That novel has many characters in it. Each one speaks in a different voice. Each person has to have his or her own voice. If they sound alike then the reader will get them confused or wonder if this is a town of clones. Even siblings who grow up in the same house with the same parents and go to the same schools don't say things the same way.
Those of you who have kids, try an experiment. Ask each one to tell about an event, perhaps shooting fireworks at the last Fourth of July. Have someone else record their words, then transcribe them for you (that way you can't hear their actual voices). Now, read their descriptions. There's a good chance you can tell which kid said what just by the way they word things, the order they tell the story, the things each noticed about the occasion, the details they put in or leave out.
That's because real people have real voices. They have their own way of saying things, of stringing their words together. One person notices the sweat on the basketball players' faces, the way the post player pants as she runs. Another player at the same game pays attention to the hawker going up and down the aisles selling cotton candy. We each see what's important to us. We're each influenced by our pasts, by our previous experiences and beliefs.
Next time: Part Two on Voices
How do you go about hearing the voices of your characters? Do they talk to you? Do you listen? Can you hear the differences in their voices?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and Chair of the Texas Book Festival Author Escorts. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of the novels Dismembering the Past and Angel Sometimes, three books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe.